Ten Concepts That Obsess Me Now: #5, Emailed Voice Mail (EVM)

Here’s the second of three “pointed mechanical recommendation” posts, intended to help you become Hyper-Efficient.

Everything you’ll need to implement this particular communication tool is here. If you’re a busy business owner or manager, it will be worth your time to slow down and contemplate this post. EVM will change your life if you can grasp what it can do and then put it into play. It will save you scores of hours over the next month…hundreds of hours over the next year.

Not only that, your quantity of output will skyrocket while your errors-of-omission will drop to near zero.

OK. Let’s talk about Emailed Voice Mail (EVM). We’ve been using it in my various operations for four years. It’s still not widespread in the business world and it seems to me the simple reason is that it’s different…and in these days, with our shortened attention spans, learning something new can be a challenge. And there’s this: yes, most people consider themselves technology-adept, but in using email, mobile devices, voicemail, and various online meeting platforms, nearly everyone is in lock-step with accepted protocol for their use, never considering that there might be a whole new tact.

So, let’s shake up your world!

I’m obsessed with EVM. It’s the perfect answer to the question: How can I take action instantly, no matter…

  1. where I am, and/or…
  2. who I’m with, and/or…
  3. what time it is, and/or…
  4. what I’m doing?”

In my life, I do everything now. Nothing is put off except those endeavors that I want to put off, like reading, writing. exercise. By carefully refining the machinery of my communications, how much more do I accomplish these days, compared to how I used to operate? I’d conservatively say, triple. The quality of my work? That’s harder to quantify, but things don’t fall through the cracks anymore and fire-killing is a distant memory.

It’s Point of Sale in every nuance of my life. There’s no delay in taking actionEvery actionable thought that comes into my head gets “out there” instantly.

I’m pushing those real-time wheels away, now, and EVM is an indispensable agent in making that happen.

And, no I’m not a robot reacting to every stimulus. My life is relaxed and in control.

What is EVM, exactly? It’s a $3.00 app on your smart phone that allows you to record a voice mail message and then send it as an attachment to an email address. That’s it! As with Total Inbox (which is supercharged if combined with EVM), you can start using it in this moment. There is nothing else to buy. You have everything you need, right now.

Before further explanation, and some real-life examples, consider these two points and how EVM fits in with each:

  1. Within your thinking process, thoughts arrive as if they are sequential segments on a film that’s running through an old-time movie projector. The projector is youyou are the interpreter of those thoughts. The thoughts travel through your mind fast, in linear sequence, one-at-a time. Sometimes a thought is associated to the thought that came before it. Sometimes not. Some of those thoughts are valuable, but most aren’t. They come, they go, and then another one arrives. And here’s what’s awesome about EVM: it prevents a flashing good thought from disappearing; from being instantly replaced by the thought following it. Not only that: if an idea arrives in your head that requires you to deliver information to someone else, you can deliver the information to that person in that moment. Nothing is lost. Nothing gets delayed. It’s Point of Sale on amphetamines.
  2. In a verbal conversation, there’s a gap between stimulus and response. As we talk real-time there’s a split second of silence between the time you stop talking and when I begin my response. (Two people talking at once just doesn’t work.) To have an effective conversation, does that silence have to be a split second in length? The answer is no. In 99% of human communication, the length of the gap doesn’t matter. Could the gap be…two hours? Or, twelve hours? Of course it can. (That’s how email works!) Accepting the precept that it’s OK to stretch a conversation out over time means information is shared, decisions are made, and action is taken with incredible efficiency. For instance, just getting two people in the same place at the same time is often not easy, and getting a group of people in the same place at the same time can be downright onerous. So, regarding conversations and meetings: we can dispense with the belief that the best back-and-forth verbal dialog must happen real-time. EVM is perfect for any two-way, non-simultaneous conversations…get used to it and you’ll find that most of the time it’s better than having both people present. Ditto, for group meetings…

Here’s an example of how I use EVM. This happened two days ago: It’s evening and I’m at home reading and a thought pops into my head: I need my assistant, Briela, to do something for me the next day. This particular task is semi-complicated. I put the book down, pick up my phone, hit a key to pull up the EVM app, record my request exactly, insert Briela’s email address in the “To” window (it auto-fills), add my name to the Cc: window (also auto-filling). Then, in a few more words I concisely describe the task in the subject window (using the smartphone’s voice-to-text feature), and then I send the message to Briela (and it goes automatically to my own inbox so I can keep track of the task).

I’m very good at this protocol so I complete all of it in just thirty seconds. Then I’m back to reading with my mind totally clear, ready for whatever comes up next either in my book or in the random thoughts that occasionally but invariably intrude.

Notice there was no disruptive after-hours phone call to Briela; no task-list notation to remind me to talk to her the next day; no composing of a 20 minute, five-hundred word written email message…and the EVM message I sent Briela was good: complete, and offering the nuance and tenor that only comes with verbal message delivery.

Briela got my message the next day and she fulfilled my request quickly and correctly. No real-time discussion was necessary.

I deleted the reminder-message that was waiting for me in my email inbox.

Every one of my managers has this imbedded do-it-now comportment, using the proper tools and protocols to get-things-done-now.

We are Point of Sale: The Centratel management team.

Another example, also two days ago: I’m in a conversation in a coffee shop with a friend/associate and we agree some action should be taken. I ask my friend to “wait just a second.” I pull my phone out and record and then send the EVM message to Jason, one of my IT guys. That particular wheel is rolling now…and I’ve just demonstrated my good intentions.

Including cc’ing myself so that I can track the task, I do the recording/sending in 20 seconds and our coffee-chat continues.

And yet another illustration, and this was a few weeks ago: I’m in my car, headed across town for a casual lunch engagement. On the way I remember that I have some good news to share with my staff. Using my iPhone and Bluetooth, I record and send a message (“Hey everyone! Last week was awesome for the business because…”).

It takes me less than a minute to record and then send to my staff of fifty.

Yeah baby! Lots of good information delivered immediately, and often.

Here’s yet another example: this just occurred as I write this post: It’s 5:15 am on this Thursday morning. A few minutes ago I thought of my brother Steve who lives in New Mexico. I haven’t talked to him for a week or so. I grabbed my phone, left him a personal message – it was a couple of minutes long – and then sent it to him. It took just a bit over two minutes for the whole process. Steve will get the message in a couple of hours when he wakes up.

OK, one more: Josh, the COO in our consulting business, who lives in Arizona, and I, might talk one-on-one every few days, but in that same time frame, we will have also completed number of EVM conversations. If it’s a general “sharing of ideas for the future” conversation, the EVM exchange could extend over a few hours, maybe even over the course of a day. The talking is brief and to the point, but the “gap” is extended. If it’s a more urgent matter, we EVM back and forth a couple of times over just a few minutes. In the first example, EVM allows thoughtful exchange yet it’s fast, eliminating the need for an episode of disjointed telephone tag.

I use EVM all day long: in my car, in a restaurant, in a meeting, on the Stairmaster, walking, whatever. Action happens now, before the film in my head surges ahead to the next thought. There’s not a wisp of remembering necessary; nothing to be held precariously in the back of my mind.

More advantages, and suggestions:

  • To summarize: the primary EVM advantage is that it allows “instant wheel-rolling.” It’s the ultimate Point of Sale tool.
  • Just a few years ago many people couldn’t open and play an EVM. Their email platform wouldn’t accommodate it. That’s not true anymore. Now, almost anyone can open and listen to an EVM. (But not my banker-friend. Her firewall is mercilessly protective.)
  • A complex message that would take me twenty minutes to type into an email takes me one minute to explain in my voice using EVM. That’s a 20x time savings.
  • You get to explain yourself perfectly, and without interruption. If your first recorded explanation is not to your liking, just delete it and do it again. When it’s done to your satisfaction, send it.
  • Your recipient listens with 100% attention, not distracted with composing a reply even before you’re finished talking. And your recipient has time to think about a response; to make that response perfect.
  • In sending an EVM to someone else, consider using the Total Inbox method of copying the email message to yourself so the message or task doesn’t fall through the cracks. (Be sure to briefly describe the content in the email subject window, six words or less, so when you scan your inbox you can tell what it is without having to listen…).
  • As mentioned, I am unabashed about doing the process in the middle of a conversation with someone.
  • Leave reminder/info messages to yourself. Don’t lose those good thoughts as they race through your projector! (The EVM app should have your email address inserted as default, making that process even faster.)
  • EVM is especially useful for exchanges among top-management, where formality is not required but speed-of-execution and nuance is critical.
  • Do not use EVM to criticize. Best to sit down face-to-face, real-time, so the other party doesn’t feel attacked.
  • You can dispense with the “Daily niceties” that are an unwanted byproduct of a real-time conversation. “Get in and get out.” The other party will appreciate this too.
  • Without interrupting their day, you can leave a message to another party anytime. They’ll like that….
  • Replace sit-down group meetings by sending an EVM to group and asking for interaction, either directly back to you or to share with the entire group.

I could go on and on with the advantages, and the hints, and cause this post to be 5,000 words, but I won’t do that. You know enough now to get the app and start to use it. Practice using it and soon you’ll find yourself repeatedly going back to it as situations arise. The key is to just get started: download the app and then experiment.

Our preferred apps? Say it and Mail It for the iPhone. (Here’s a good third-party review). For Droids, try Tape-A-Talk. There are lots of other choices, too.

Ten Concepts That Obsess Me Now
Part 1, Point of Sale
Part 2, Critical Thinking Search and Rescue
Part 3, A Business is a Dispassionate Machine
Part 4, Hyper-Efficiency Via Total Inbox
Part 5, Emailed Voice Mail (EVM)
Part 6, Thinking Slow, Moving Fast
Part 7, Deal Killers and the Main Machine
Part 8, The Simple Key to Double Sales and Create Raving Fans
Part 9, The Tail Wagging the Dog Syndrome

Part 10, Do You Have Quiet Courage?